The Tindims and the Ten Green Bottles by Sally Gardner, illustrated by Lydia Corry

Publication Date: 15 April 2021

The Blurb

The tiny Tindims are like the Borrowers-on-Sea, who turn our everyday rubbish into treasure. In their third adventure Ethel B Dina, who looks after the fish hospital and loves to sing, needs ten green, glass bottles to complete her musical Bottleramma. But she is surrounded by too many plastic bottles which do not make music. Join the Tindims in their glass bottle hunt and meet the Tindims explorer, Tiddledum.

Printed in dyslexia-friendly font with pictures on every page and perfect for the reluctant reader, the Tindims show keen young ecologists how to help protect our planet for the future.

The Review

This is our third visit to The Tindims and they remain as whimsical and wise as always, tackling our polluted planet with a warmth the long legs polluting the planet probably don’t deserve. From the moment we step foot on Rubbish Island, we are welcomed into the Tindim’s world with their unique turns of phrase, their celebrations and customs, and a mountainous plastic problem.

Sally’s rich characterisation, and beautifully crafted island are brought to life in joyous detail by Lydia, whose illustrations adorn every page of this brilliant book for newly independant readers looking to strike out on their own.

The Tindims creativity combined with their passion for conservation is sure to inspire readers to help look after our world as well as get creative themselves with repurposing rubbish into treasures, with great ideas at the end of each book.

Whether read alone or read aloud, this is a fabulously fun series with a serious message for little long legs to hear. We can’t wait for book four!

The Q&A with Sally Gardner

Can you describe The Tindims and the Ten Green Bottles in just three words? 

Small kind recyclers   

Miss Cleveland has some amazing books on her bookshelf. Why should we choose the Tindims series?  

If I knew the answer to that one I most probably would be in the sales department!

You have created a wonderfully wacky world for the Tindims to inhabit. Where do you get your ideas from for your fantastical worlds?  

There is a market that all writers go to, it happens once a year. where they sell ideas. Best to get there early because it’s a bit of a scramble, worse than the December sales, after all so many authors are hoping to pick up the best ideas going. 

I personally like the fairy stall. he has some of the best ideas on display . But he’s also rather grumpy so you have to be a little wary of him. It’s all quite hush hush, I can’t really tell you more…. 

But the truthful answer is: they come from my head and some characters come fully formed and some ideas come pretty much complete and some comes in  jigsaw pieces. And I am still looking for the market.

What do you do if you are struggling for ideas?  

I don’t often struggle for ideas but I do struggle to get my ideas into a proper shape and not make it all too complicated.  I’m quite good at coming up with two books in one and not realising it and having to separate them out.  A good walk helps.  I heard a rather lovely Story about Jane Austen who used to sit doing her needlework and every now and then she would jump up laughing, and go and write something down in her notebook. It is often a good idea to do something else if you’re stuck. I really should take my advice a little bit more often.

How long does it usually take you to write a story?  

The Tindims took me longer than I thought and I was surprised that each one took the time it took. I try to make my stories look simple and easy but that really does take quite a lot of work to get  them there. I write, I re-write, I read out loud, I re-read.  I am a perfectionist in that I go over and over things.

Do you have any unfinished writing projects? 

I have lots of ideas and one in particular that I want to take further. But I most probably will do that without a contract, once I’ve finished the book I’m working on at the moment.  

What has it been like working on a book with your daughter creating the illustrations?  

I have in fact worked with both my twin daughters. Lydia with the illustrations and Freya who is helping me with the text, making sure it’s all readable and not too much of a dyslexic mess. Freya  is without doubt a wonderful editor-in- the-making, she has a real gift of seeing the Whole Story.  

Lydia came up with the idea of Rubbish Island and I pounced on it, thinking it was absolutely brilliant. And then luckily enough I got all the names and the characters while hoovering one Saturday. I thought it was a good idea and I told my agent and my publisher and never has a response come back quicker to say ‘yes, yes please go ahead!’  

Lydia is an exceptionally talented artist and I am so proud of her. What she has managed to achieve in these four books is outstanding, she has brought to life all the characters in such an enchanting way. We talked about it a bit at the beginning but on the whole I just said to her, ‘you get on with it and do what you want with it’, which she has done  I think this is just the beginning of a great career for her. I am very blessed that I get on very well with all my children and it’s been a joy to work with Lydia. I hope in the future we might do more books together. Dare I say it, I think we make quite a good team.  

Just like Miss Cleveland, you are dyslexic and have sad memories from school because of it. What advice would you give to people to engage readers who are really struggling and help them find a love for books and stories?  

Fidgeting: it’s very unpopular with teachers and parents alike and ends up with exhausted parents and teachers saying “will you sit still. Just put your hands on the table. Just listen. Will you just concentrate.” Unless I’m doing another activity while listening to a story or taking in information, I find it very hard to retain anything. It tends to fall out of the sieve in my brain. So fidgeting needs to be taken into consideration when anyone is struggling to read. My advice is to let children draw, to play with a stress ball, plasticine, playdough, anything that occupies their hands. You may think they’re not taking things I, ,but believe me they are. Make them sit still and they will take in nothing at all. I am a great supporter of audio and I would just like to say here that, years ago, the RNIB very kindly considered dyslexia to be a visual problem and therefore they allowed us in to that organisation. You can get yourself a doctor’s certificate to say you are dyslexic and then for a nominal fee you can join their listening library, where a cornucopia of the delights  and flights of fancy wait for you.  

What advice would the Tindims give to little long legs (and their big long legs) who want to help clean up our planet?  

Plastic plastic plastic and it needs to be recycled and, for the long legs (Tindims-speak for adult humans), please be more aware when  you are buying bottled water in non-recycled plastic . Please long legs, all those magazines you buy for little long legs with bits of plastic stuck on the front cover, could you just find out if they are recyclable. Lego please don’t buy anything that isn’t recyclable. There is a horrendous amount of Lego bobbing about in the seas . 

24 years ago 60,000 rubber ducks got dumped into the oceans from a container ship. They’re still being washed up all over the world.

It just shows us that plastic doesn’t go away unless it’s treated and recycled and reused, not dumped into a blue sea. And now added to this disaster we’re throwing face masks into the oceans. We really need to think about our rubbish. We have one little blue planet, that’s all. We have children because we want them to have a future on this little blue planet. Don’t take it for granted that the plastics you are using are being recycled. Ask and write and find out…

Which children’s book characters would you like to go on a socially distanced picnic with? 

Well that’s easy, I want to go on a picnic with The Tindims. Because Granny Gull makes the best teas going. She likes to do it properly with starched tablecloths napkins and china cups.   On the whole, only little long legs can see them but I have been very lucky that they have talked to me. Ethel B Dina has some questions for you.

How many picnics a week do you go on?

Not as many as I’d like! We do always have a sofa picnic on a Friday night with pizza, popcorn and plenty of fizzy pop while watching a film.

And what kind of life saver ring do you wear?

It’s a very long time since I’ve worn a lifesaver ring, but I was very jealous of the one my son had which had a steering wheel and a horn on it! My life saver ring is more of a lilo with arms these days, which is perfect for lying back and reading on while staying cool in the pool.

And how do you celebrate the Brightsea festival?   

Living in Coventry, we are as far from the sea as it is possible to be, so rather than dress up as fish and celebrate the treasures from the sea, we are far more likley to find other people’s rubbish scattered in hedgerows, at the edge of fields and parks. We can show our school values of teamwork and integrity by picking these up and disposing of them properly or recycling them. Just because someone else has discarded something, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t clear up after them. The Great British Spring Clean is one way we can come together as a community of long legs and make a big difference.

About Sally Gardner

Sally Gardner is a multi-award winning children’s writer and illustrator. She won both the Costa Children’s Book Award and the Carnegie Medal for Maggot Moon (Hot Key Books, 2012). She has sold over 2 million books in the UK and her work has been translated in to more than 22 languages.

Huge thanks to Sally for answering all of our questions, to Ethel B Dina for asking hers, and to Zepher for inviting us to take part in the blog tour for The Tindims And The Ten Green Bottles. Do make sure you check out all of the other stops.


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